On Consciousness Theory of International Relations

International Relations (IR) is the study of how nations interact with each other as part of a prevailing world order, an international system if one wishes. A subdiscipline of Political Science, IR covers the gamut of the various foreign policies that any nation is capable of implementing. Diplomacy, trade, war, and other topics pertaining to foreign policy are discussed here. Also included are discussions related to NGOs (Non-Government Organizations), IGO (Intergovernmental Organizations), and Multinational Corporations (MNCs). The subdiscipline itself grew up in the wake of the First World War, developing into a Theory throughout the rest of the 20th century.

After spending the past several days writing a few posts about the subject, I eventually realized that the Work-Standard deserved its own IR Theory, its own school of thought. Many of the ideas that govern the conduct of International Relations is designed to accommodate Neoliberalism and the Jeffersonian Empire of Liberty in particular. “Realist Theory” and “Liberal Theory” are both reflections of this ideological tendency within IR. “Constructivist Theory” could have been a viable competitor, but it lacks enough direction and purpose to be worthy of support. Apart from those three, there is the “Marxist Theory,” which is essentially a reapplication of Marxism-Leninism or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism to International Relations. I personally consider Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong as the most notable contributors to Marxist interpretations of IR.

For most ideologies, including the “Artistic Socialisms” (the ones which do not adhere to Marxist Theory like Islamic Socialism or Pan-Germanic Socialism), there is currently no IR school of thought that caters to them. Even Fascism lacks one, an ideology that would definitely benefit from one due to its pre-1945 history. To address this issue for the Work-Standard and provide a school of thought for ideologies not aligned with Liberal Capitalism or Scientific Socialism, I devised “Consciousness Theory.” The basic ideas posited in Consciousness Theory are applicable to two kinds of Nations within the State of Total Mobilization: the Council State (Pure Socialism) and the Corporate State (State Corporatism).    

In the Council State, the Nation is governed by the State, the Totality, and the Self. The Self exists as part of the Totality, which comprises of a constellation of differing perspectives and interests. The Totality decides how the State formulates its foreign policy vis-à-vis the inherent characteristics of Council Democracy. They also influence the State’s orientation of the National Interest, which can impact how the State interacts with other Nations. Nations perceived to be supportive of the Totality’s National Interest are more likely to be supported by the Totality. Conversely, those who oppose the Totality’s National Interest will be perceived as hostile.

In the Corporate State, the Nation is governed by the State, Organized Labor, the Business Community, and the Self. The State is the intermediate between Organized Labor and the Business Community. The Self can freely align themselves with either one, two, or all three. The Self is also allowed to realign themselves outside of their initial group. If they are part of Organized Labor, they can side with the Business Community; if they are part of the Business Community, they can reorient themselves in favor of Organized Labor. In either case, the Self acts on behalf of the State.

The Council State and the Corporate State are both capable of having their respective National Interests. What distinguishes the Corporate State from the Council State is that the State itself acts as the final authority on all foreign policies. Given the characteristics of State Corporatism, Organized Labor and Business Community either forge a consensus or they allow the Corporate State to define the National Interest for them.

The most important characteristic about the National Interest within Consciousness Theory is that it is not to be mistaken for the concept of “Self-Interest” from Realist Theory. Realists will argue that it was supposedly ‘rational’ for the German Reich to be at war with the Soviet Union if doing so furthers the Self-Interest of the German Reich. They likewise consider the idea of the Soviet Union becoming a strategic partner of the German Reich to be ‘irrational.’

In Consciousness Theory, however, it is possible for two or more Nations to share the same National Interests. This is capable of occurring if both Nations have similar priorities on matters of geopolitics because they stand to benefit from engaging in a mutual, reciprocal relationship. Going back to the example of the German Reich and the Soviet Union, certain political elements within the German Reich favored an alliance with the Soviets because they shared a common enemy, Neoliberalism, and that their Totalities would benefit from engaging in cultural dialogue. If the Germans and the Soviets both have something to gain by working together as opposed to fighting each other, that is because they both have similar National Interests.  

Unlike the Liberal Theory, where peace and cooperation are decided by Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) done by Parliamentary Democracies with Multinational Corporations, Consciousness relies on its own definitions of peace and war, cooperation and opposition. “War” in Consciousness Theory does not always need to occur in the usual formulations of “Conventional Warfare” and “Unconventional Warfare.” They can also occur through other forms such as Cyberwarfare (combat operations involving the digital realm), Worldview Warfare (combat operations involving the Weltanschauung of rival ideologies), and Financial Warfare (combat operations involving the Work-Standard). In The Work-Standard, I briefly touched on the subject of Financial Warfare. And in The Third Place, I touched on some basic concepts related to Worldview Warfare.

Thus, the concept of “peace” in Consciousness Theory also takes on a different definition. Peace prevails when there is a coalescence of Mutual National Interests among all involved Nations. Real Trade Agreements (RTAs) and efforts at fostering good relations are to be treated as signs of trust among Nations. It is trust, not RTAs in themselves, that promote peace. No Nation under the Work-Standard will openly provide another Nation access to its own Actual Arbeit and Actual Geld without expecting something in return.    

And how does Consciousness Theory differ from Constructivist Theory? On a superficial level, the two appear to be similar, but there are far more nuances separating the former from the latter. The basic premise behind Constructivist Theory is that the world order and the Nations that participate in them are defined by social constructs that their Totalities created and maintained. The foreign policies of every Nation is influenced by the ideas, norms and values shared by its Totality. In fact, so much emphasis is placed on them that it is difficult to imagine how they can be changed by non-intellectual means.

While Consciousness Theory recognizes the importance of ideas, values and norms, it also believes that there can be distinctions between Human Consciousness and the National Consciousness. The international system exists as a reflection of Human Consciousness, which is shaped by the distinct, well-defined National Consciousnesses of the involved States. Changes to the National Consciousness, not to mention the National Identity, is not always guaranteed nor should it be inevitable as Constructivists like to think. This is because Consciousness Theory insists that these changes do not necessarily have to be the handiwork of the Totality. It is also important take into consideration the possibility that other Totalities may be subverting their decision-making.

In essence, the Socialization of Young Minds and its analogue for Neoliberalism, the Liberalization of Young Minds, are two important concepts which Consciousness Theory has against Constructivist Theory. Constructivist Theory likes to think that both processes are inevitable and they cannot be resisted by any means. Consciousness Theory, meanwhile, argues that both can be voluntarily accepted by the Totality and involuntarily imposed on them. Put another way, not every social construct within International Relations is going to be created by the Totality of any one particular Nation. They may instead be the social constructs of another Nation due to a Socialization of Young Minds or a Liberalization of Young Minds.

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